(10/25/23) BATON ROUGE, La. — Thirty-five years is a long time to be employed at one job, but when that job is churning out delicious ice cream at the legendary LSU AgCenter Dairy Store, it’s an experience to be savored.
Charles “Chuck” Boeneke, an AgCenter dairy science professor who manages production at the Dairy Store, has been scooping and serving at the corner of South Stadium Drive and Tower Drive since he was a student at LSU and has amassed a lifetime of memories.
“I’ve been here 32 years full-time and was a graduate student for three years before that,” he said. “I met my wife here when she was a student worker, and we’ve been married for 30 years now.”
The history of the campus creamery dates back to 1925, and the current location has been in operation since 1956. The creamery was renamed the LSU AgCenter Dairy Store in 1972, and it’s been selling ice cream, cheeses, milk and other dairy products ever since.
“All of the dairy products we use for production come from the AgCenter Southeast Research Station in Franklinton,” Boeneke said. “And believe it or not, the bestselling flavors we have are still good old chocolate and vanilla.”
Those are two of the 16 ice cream flavors offered at the Dairy Store, the last batch of which was churned out Oct. 13. The historic structure will be demolished to make way for the new Our Lady of the Lake Health Interdisciplinary Science Building.
But those with a sweet tooth need not fret. The final 400-gallon batch should last into the new year, according to Boeneke, then the Dairy Store will temporarily relocate to the Food Science Building around the corner in mid-January. It will spend about 18 months there while the Our Lady of the Lake Health Interdisciplinary Science Building, which will include space for a new Dairy Store, is being constructed.
Boeneke said the new facility will allow the store to do more volume and be better equipped for small batches and specialty flavors for companies that request personalized product runs.
“The freezer and some of the equipment is double the size of what we have now,” he said. “We’ll also have an ultra-modern facility with state-of-the-art coolers and flavor tanks.”
Boeneke likens the future Dairy Store to the Panera Bread location inside Patrick F. Taylor Hall with an atrium setting, more seating and a 16-flavor selection cabinet at any given time along with the standard fresh milk and cheeses.
Matt Lee, vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture, was on hand to assist with the historic final batch production. He said it can’t be overstated how much the Dairy Store has meant to the LSU community over the decades, especially during the sweltering summer months.
“The LSU AgCenter Dairy Store has been a cherished campus staple for decades, and it’s been more than just a storefront to get ice cream. It serves as a hands-on learning tool for students mastering the art of food processing,” Lee said. “With this modernized facility, we secure the preservation of this creamery for the next generation of students coming to LSU.”
While Boeneke can’t say for sure how many scoops have been served over the decades or how many people have passed through the store, he knows the numbers are likely staggering.
“I kept a record up to two or three years ago, and just with K through 12 tour groups, it’s well over 100,000 people,” he said. “And on gamedays, the line is usually out the door to the street.”
Matt Lee, LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture, assists LSU AgCenter dairy science professor Charles “Chuck” Boeneke in producing the last batch of ice cream at the LSU AgCenter Dairy Store before the building is demolished and the store moves to its temporary location in the Food Science Building. The Dairy Store has been at its current location on the corner of South Stadium Drive and Tower Drive since 1956, when it was known as the LSU Creamery. Photo by V. Todd Miller/LSU AgCenter
The final batch of LSU AgCenter Dairy Store ice cream at its current location was churned out on Oct. 13. The Dairy Store has been at its location on the corner of South Stadium Drive and Tower Drive since 1956, when it was known as the LSU Creamery. Photo by V. Todd Miller/LSU AgCenter
The LSU AgCenter Dairy Store has been serving patrons from its current building since 1956. While the structure is set to be demolished in early 2024, there will be a temporary location in the Food Science Building before moving into the front of the new Our Lady of the Lake Health Interdisciplinary Science Building in late 2025. LSU AgCenter file photo